The UK’s first Air Cadet unit at a Sikh Faith school has opened in Wolverhampton, with a special parade marking the turning out of its first recruits.
The Khalsa Cadets Wolverhampton RAF (CCF), held its official turning out ceremony on Saturday (April 30) for students who are part of the programme. The unit is part of the city’s Khalsa Academy – an inclusive school, which welcomes learners from all socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
The Khalsa Air Cadet contingent, which has strong links with Sikhism, currently has 70 cadets and three members of staff, who took part in a special turning out parade on the day.
Flight Lieutenant Manveet Dhaliwal, said she was proud to support the opening of the new squadron, which is the first of its kind and is supported by the Khalsa Academy Trust.
“It’s good to support the launch of a new air cadet squadron, and specifically one that’s got really close ties to Sikhism”, she said.
“Sikhism and cadets actually have a lot of parallel values, which I think is important to capture and promote as well”.
Wing commander Manjeet Singh Ghataora, said that he hoped opening more Khalsa cadet units will help to break down barriers and encourage more ethnic minorities to join the organisation.
“There’s always the barrier. We’re trying to recruit more BAME people into the Royal Air Force and the other services”, he said.
“Hopefully cadet organisations like this will look to increase that representation. Here they can see that by looking at the serving personnel that have come to support the event, and also the many young Sikh cadets joining up, that there’s opportunities for them here as well”.
The Air Cadets is an organisation, which is designed for young people aged 13 and upwards, boasting numerous opportunities including UK and overseas camps, leadership courses, air experience flights and pilot training.
Speaking of the benefits of joining up, Mr Ghataora pointed to “amazing opportunities”, where youngsters can learn a variety of skills, including discipline, organisation, communication and leadership.
“I know it makes a difference for people’s careers when they go for jobs, if you turn round and say ‘I was a flight sergeant in a cadet organisation”, he told Pukaar News.
“They get to try flying and do lots of adventurous training, so it’s a great opportunity, especially for people in the inner cities, to get out and about and have a look at the military opportunities”, he added.
New recruit Jasmeet Kaur, said that Air Cadets had helped with her confidence by taking her out of her comfort zone.
“It introduces you to new things. Normally I’m always inside the house and I never do anything and, joining up and participating in this, it’s just helped me to feel better about myself”, she said.
Lance Corporal Jushan Preet Kaur, said that joining the Air Cadets, had helped her to consider a career in the Armed Forces.
“The uniform – I love it. It gives me a confidence, and I know my parents are proud of me as well, and that’s a key thing for me”, she added.
Anita Notta, executive principal and CEO of the Khalsa Academies Trust, said that the Khalsa Cadets was developed as an extension of Khalsa Academy of Wolverhampton, which “fits in with the values and ethos of the school”.
“We are a Sikh ethos school but we are also part of a Sikh faith based trust, where our Sikh values such as honesty and integrity fit really well with the RAF values they uphold.
“It’s great because it grounds our children with the discipline and the focus, which goes alongside their educational studying as well”.
To find out more about the organisation, visit: https://combinedcadetforce.org.uk/find-a-ccf/khalsa-academy-wolverhampton